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Jharkhand coal mine mishap: Five more bodies recovered, death toll climbs to 16

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With the recovery of five more bodies on Saturday, the death toll climbed to 16 in the coal mine collapse at Lalmatia open cast coal mine of Eastern Coalfields Ltd (ECL), the worst such disaster in over a decade.R R Mishra, officiating CMD of ECL, a Coal India subsidiary told PTI, “We have recovered five more bodies today. We are carrying on the rescue operation in a systematic manner so that the situation does not aggravate as the debris is too much and it should not fall.”Danger zones have been declared around the place of incidents to restrict the entry of people there. Moreover, the district commissioner has also stationed police and CISF officials to restrict entry of people in the danger zone, Mishra said.”We have also called experts from outside to help us in the rescue operation. We have fully ensured that the rescue operations are done with proper safety measures. We have also come up with Standard Operating Procedures which would help us in proper operations so that there is no loss to lives,” Mishra added.Central Mine Planning and Design Institute (CMPDIL), the consultancy arm of Coal India Ltd, has deployed magneto meters along with imaging system for locating magnetic and conductive material up to a depth of 80 meters, the statement said.Mishra said the incident occurred at around 7.30 PM on Thursday when excavators were working there following which rescue operations was launched immediately.Senior officials of Director General of Mines Safety (DGMS) have arrived at the site and launched an inquiry.13 excavators and dump trucks which were swamped under the debris have been recovered.

Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi rules out resignation, offers support to new army chief Bipin Rawat

Kolkata: Putting to rest all speculation about his resignation, Eastern Army Commander lieutenant general Praveen Bakshi assured his full support to General Bipin Rawat, who took charge as the new army chief superseding him.

Lt General Praveen Bakshi. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.Lt General Praveen Bakshi. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Lt General Praveen Bakshi. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

“I convey my best wishes and full support of Eastern Command to Gen. Bipin Rawat on having taken over as the Chief of Army Staff,” Bakshi said on Saturday. He also made it clear that he was not resigning, and even called the new army chief on the phone to congratulate him on taking over the reins of the army, an official said.

Speculation that he may seek premature retirement from service gained ground after he met Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on 21 December and then proceeded on leave after Christmas.

Bakshi was initially the frontrunner for the post of army chief. However, keeping aside the trend of seniority, the government appointed vice-chief of army, lieutenant general Bipin Rawat, a batch junior to Bakshi, as the new chief.

The army commander requested that speculation in media and trolling on social media should stop and everyone should focus on contributing their best to the betterment of the army and the nation.

At a function here on new year’s eve, he greeted all ranks of Army’s Eastern Command and said he would continue to lead the Command with full professional sincerity. He, however, continues to be on leave for the next few days.

First Published On : Dec 31, 2016 16:48 IST

11 miners dead in Lalmatia colliery mishap in Jharkhand, rescue operations to resume Sat morning

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Ten miners were killed and an unspecified number feared trapped when a massive mound of earth came crashing down on them at Lalmatia open cast coal mine of Eastern Coalfields Ltd (ECL) Thursday night, the worst such disaster in over a decade.Heavy machinery was deployed as rescuers, including those from the NDRF, toiled through the day extricating bodies and looking for survivors. “Unfortunately the casualties have increased from seven in the morning to 10,” the coal ministry said in a statement.”Rescue teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), Eastern Coalfields Ltd (ECL)/Bharat Coking Coal Ltd (BCCL), state government and experts have been continuously carrying out rescue work at the accident site of ECL’s Rajmahal Open Cast Expansion Project in district Godda, Jharkhand,” the statement said.Central Mine Planning and Design Institute (CMPDIL, the consultancy arm of Coal India Ltd., has deployed magneto meters along with imaging system for locating magnetic and conductive material up to a depth of 80 meters, the statement said.R R Mishra, officiating CMD of ECL, a Coal India subsidiary, said that the incident occurred at around 7:30 pm last night when excavators were working there following which rescue operations was launched immediately.Senior officials of Director General of Mines Safety (DGMS) have arrived at the site and launched an inquiry.All 10 excavators and dump trucks which were swamped under the debris have been recovered. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Coal Minister Piyush Goyal, Jharkhand Chief Minister Raghubar Das and other leaders have expressed grief over the loss of lives.”Saddened by the loss of lives at a mine in Jharkhand. My prayers are with those trapped inside. Spoke to CM Raghubar Das on the situation,” Modi said on twitter.Das said an assistance of Rs two lakh will be given to the families of the miners who died in the accident, while ECL also announced an ex-gratia compensation of Rs five lakh each to these families, in addition to the amount to be paid under the Workmen’s Compensation Act.14 miners were killed at Central Saunda coal mine in Ramgarh district of Jharkhand in August 2005. The country’s worst mining disaster had occurred at Chasnala in Dhanbad district in the then Bihar state in 1975 in which 375 lives were lost.

Navy Admiral Sunil Lanba appointed as chairman of Chiefs of Staff Committee

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba on Thursday took over the baton of the chairman of the chiefs of staff committee (CoSC) from outgoing IAF chief Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha even as the government plans to create a new post to focus exclusively on inter-services issues and acquisitions.He would, however, be assuming charge as Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee with effect from afternoon of December 31.Army chief Gen Dalbir Singh, who also retires from service on December 31 and Principal Staff Officers of all three Services and HQ Integrated Defence Staff were present on the occasion.The government is working on either creating a post of chief of defence staff (CDS) or a permanent chairman CoSC chairman.While the contentious CDS is likely to be a five star post, the permanent Chairman COSC will be a four-star, a post that that the three Services have agreed to.Admiral Lanba assumed command of the Indian Navy on May 31 this year. He is a Navigation and Direction specialist and has served on board numerous ships in both the Eastern and Western Fleets. Air Chief Marshal Raha, had taken over as Chairman COSC on August 1, 2014. Under his stewardship, the Services received a vital boost in jointmanship, a statement by the Defence Ministry said.During his tenure the Defence Communication Network got operationalised and training standards of the Tri Service Institutes such as NDA, DSSC and CDM were enhanced. The much awaited National War Museum got approval from the government.He was instrumental in enhancing the role of military diplomacy with friendly foreign countries, the statement added.Various Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief Operations during crisis situations both within and outside India such as J&K floods, Chennai floods, evacuation of Indian and foreign nationals from Yemen and Nepal Earthquake were successfully conducted.He also played a pivotal role in formulation of the new Defence Procurement Procedure, thereby “streamlining and fast tracking defence procurement which has so far been plagued by laborious procedures and long delays”.

Air Marshal C Hari Kumar to take charge of Western Air Command

Thu, 29 Dec 2016-03:00pm , New Delhi , ANI
<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Air Marshal C Hari Kumar, who is the present Commander in Chief of Eastern Air Command, will be the next Commander in Chief of the Western Air Command.Air Marshal SB Deo will be the next Vice Chief of the Air Staff. He is presently the Commander in Chief of the Western Air Command. Deo will take over from Air Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa, who is all set to be the new Indian Air Force (IAF) chief. He will hand over the charge of the Western Air Command to Hari Kumar. Deo was commissioned into the fighter stream in 1979.Prior to taking over as Air Officer Commanding in Chief of Western Air Command, Deo was the Director General Air Operations at Air Headquarters and Air Officer Commanding in Chief of Eastern Air Command.

Trains to and from Howrah and Sealdah diverted: Eastern Railway

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A number of mail and express trains of Eastern Railway were diverted through different routes on Wednesday owing to derailment of 15 coaches of Ajmer-Sealdah Express near Rura station in Kanpur-Tundla section. With both Up and Down lines having been blocked owing to the derailment, several trains to and from Howrah and Sealdah were diverted, Eastern Railway sources said in Kolkata.Both 12313 Up Sealdah-New Delhi Rajdhani Express and 12301 Up Howrah-New Delhi Rajdhani Express were diverted via Kanpur Central-Jhansi-Agra Cantonment-Palwal route, the sources said. The 12308 Dn Jodhpur-Howrah Express has been diverted via Achhnera-Mathura-Kasganj-Kanpur Anwarganj-Kanpur Central, while 12260 Dn New Delhi-Sealdah Duronto Express was diverted via Khurja-Moradabad-Mughalsarai route.The 12382 Dn Poorva Express, which left New Delhi on Tuesday, would run via Palwal, while 12312 Dn Kalka Mail of Tuesday would travel towards Howrah via Moradabad. ER has opened helpline numbers at important stations of the zonal railway to provide information to the relatives of the passengers travelling by the ill-fated Sealdah-Ajmer Express that met with the accident this morning.The helpline numbers are — Howrah: 10724, Sealdah: 033-23503535, 033-23503537, Asansol: 0341-2306131, 0341-2304614, Barddhaman: 0342-2662535, 0342-2550705, 0342-2662534, Raniganj: 0341-2444022, 0341- 2442630, Durgapur: 0343-2557251, 0343-2557253.

Lt Gen Bipin Rawat’s appointment by Modi government creates unease: Here’s why

Soon after coming to power in 2014, the Narendra Modi government decided to honour the outgoing UPA government’s announcement on Lieutenant-General Dalbir Suhag’s elevation as India’s army chief. There was much speculation as his predecessor, General VK Singh who had done everything under his power to stop Suhag from getting the top job, was now not only in the BJP, but had been elected to Parliament.

Putting all speculation to rest, Modi decided to honour the well-established convention of the senior-most officer getting the top job and appointed Suhag. But, when it came to the navy, the Modi government overlooked the claims of the senior-most officer — Vice-Admiral Shekhar Sinha — and instead appointed the vice-chief and his junior, RK Dhowan as the Chief of Naval Staff.
But the navy is a smaller arm when compared to the over one million strong Indian Army. Naval supersession did not evoke much comment.

However, two years later the decision to appoint Lieutenant-General Bipin Rawat as the next army chief superceding two highly respected and competent officers, has come as a shock to many in the armed forces. Probably for the first time, two successive chiefs come from the same regiment — Gurkha Rifles.

Interestingly, Rawat’s appointment as army chief comes days after Pakistan appointed General Qamar Javed Bajwa as their new chief, both of them served in Congo as part of the UN Peacekeeping Force under General Bikram Singh, who later became India’s army chief.

File image of Lieutenant-General Bipin Rawat. Getty Images

File image of Lieutenant-General Bipin Rawat. Getty Images

Rawat’s appointment has bypassed two senior officers. Lieutenant-General Praveen Bakshi, commander-in-chief, Eastern Command — a highly respected officer, who was seen as a natural successor to Suhag. Across all ranks, the Indian Army looked forward to Bakshi’s appointment because of his exemplary credentials and the enormous respect he commands among both officers and men. The other officer superseded is commander-in-chief, Southern Command, Lieutenant-General PM Hariz, also held in high esteem.

Why did the government supersede two officers to appoint Rawat? The real reason will never be known and the explanation put forward by the government is far from convincing. The government explanation that Rawat has more experience in tackling counter-insurgency and of high altitude warfare sounds pretty facile. After all, no army chief leads formations to battle.

Bakshi, as C-in-C of the Eastern Command, is responsible for all counter-insurgency operations along the China border and in the North East region. He has served armoured brigades in Jammu and Kashmir and the western sector.

At a time when parochial interests dictate many decisions, the appointment of Rawat is bound to keep speculators busy for a long time.

There is media speculation that Bakshi might be in for a more coveted job, that of the CDS or Combined Defence Services Chief, a post which has been debated for several years but no political party has put its final stamp of approval. In a service where seniority was taken as a norm, the government announcement on Rawat is bound to stir regional and sectional interests a lot more. Senior officers are bound to use their regional and linguistic connections to play to the gallery and even lobby regional leaders.

The appointment of Rawat has already stirred a debate on the growing importance of officers from Uttarakhand in New Delhi. This tendency is not healthy for either the Indian Army or the nation to debate on.

Unlike Pakistan, in India, civilian control over the military has long been recognised and firmly established. Appointments and succession are decided by elected governments and accepted by the armed forces quietly. Even the supersession of Lieutenant-General SK Sinha by Indira Gandhi was quietly accepted, except by the general concerned who protested and resigned from the service.

Rawat’s elevation has become politically controversial

While the Opposition has every right to question the appointment the government is in no way expected to explain an executive prerogative. A privilege of the Executive, however, has to be handled with great care when dealing with sensitive appointments like that of the army chief. Historically, there has always been an undeclared war between infantry and armoured corps for supremacy.

In this battle, once again, the armoured corps represented by Bakshi was trounced by the infantry arm of the Indian Army.

First Published On : Dec 20, 2016 08:48 IST

Bipin Rawat became top contender for chief three months back

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Lt General Bipin Rawat, Chief of Army Staff-designate, became the top contender for the post when he took over as the Vice Chief three months ago, government sources said. Chances of Lt General Praveen Bakshi, who is senior to Rawat, to helm the Indian Army, were substantially reduced once Rawat took charge as Vice Chief on August 31, 2016.Ironically, Rawat was working under Bakshi in the Eastern Command when he headed the Dimapur-based 3 Corps in the Eastern Sector sometime back.Rawat, played a significant role as the Corps Commander in an operation last year when the Indian Army crossed over to Myanmar targeting the militant group NSCN (K). The strike was planned soon after the army lost 18 men in an attack by the outfit.Rawat’s appointment has triggered a controversy as he has superseded the two officers. Other than Bakshi, Southern Army Commander PM Hariz was also overlooked for the top job. This was the first time since 1983 when an army chief superseded his seniors. In 2014, Admiral RK Dhowan superseded SK Sinha to become the navy chief.Sources said Rawat was chosen over the other two generals keeping in mind his experience in operations in Jammu and Kashmir. In view of the volatile situation in Kashmir after a series of terror strikes, a candidate with sound knowledge of operations there was thought to be the right choice, sources said.”The selection is purely based on merit, irrespective of the corps to which the officer belongs,” said a defence ministry official.Following the appointment of Rawat as the army chief, there is a buzz in the government circles that Bakshi would be suitabley accommodated. The government could appoint him as the Permanent Chairman of the Chief of Staff Committee. Currently, the senior most among the service chiefs holds the post, and there is no provision for a permanent Chairman. However, officials said no decision has been taken yet.The proposed Chief of Defence Staff is also an option but sources say there is little time for creating the position.

Government always has final say in Army Chief’s selection, says Congress leader Satyavrat Chaturvedi

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress leader Satyvrat Chaturvedi appeared to go against his party’s line on Monday, when he said that the final decision in the selection of the army chief lies in the hands of the government of the day.”Seniority is an important consideration, but it is not the only consideration. Qualification is also an important factor. So, the government must have taken the decision considering all factors. I feel that the present man appointed is a general and he a past record. All these things must have been thought about,” Senior Congress leader Satyavrat Chaturvedi told ANI.Chaturvedi insisted that politics and defence should be kept apart in the national interest.
ALSO READ Rawat appointment row: Never played politics with Army like BJP, won’t ever do it, says Congress”In terms of the appointment of the army chief, controversy cannot be welcomed. The decision of what is supreme for national interest is taken by the ruling government. Army and politics should be like two poles apart. I don’t find it right to play politics over national security, he said.”I am in favour of keeping this issue away from any controversy. I don’t want to comment on it,”he added.
ALSO READ Army chief appointment: Govt cites Rawat’s track record to blunt opposition’s attack The Centre has attracted criticism from the opposition parties for choosing Lieutenant General Bipin Rawat as the next army chief, for superseding two senior officers ? Lt. Gen. Praveen Bakshi, the senior most army commander, who heads the Eastern Command, and Lt. Gen. P.M. Hariz, the chief of the Southern Command.However, the government on Sunday clarified that the appointment of Chief of Army Staff (CoAS) is based purely on merit from a panel of officers in the rank of army commanders, irrespective of the corps to which the officer originally belonged.

Furore over army chief’s appointment: Cong demands answers, govt says permission of 10, Janpath not required

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With the Centre announcing the name of Lieutenant General Bipin Rawat as the new Chief of the Army Staff superseding two seniors for the coveted post, the Congress on Sunday demanded an answer from the government over the decision, while asserting that the Army is a public institution and the nation deserves an answer.Lieutenant General Rawat, who took over as the Army vice-chief in September 2016, bypassed Eastern Command chief Lieutenant General Praveen Bakshi (armoured corps) and Southern Army Command chief Lieutenant General PM Hariz (mechanised infantry).”With all due respect to General Rawat’s professionalism and brilliance as a soldier and no personal animosity to anybody, there is a legitimate question as to why has this supersession taken place. After all, Lt. Gen Praveen Bakshi who commands the Eastern Command, the Southern Army Commander Lt. Gen Mohammed Ali and the Central Army Commander are all senior to the gentleman who is being designated,” Tewari said.However, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi lambasted the Congress for demanding an explanation, saying the government followed standards norms and does not require the permission of 10, Janpath for the same.Taking the Congress to task for time and again questioning the government’s decision, Naqvi said the grand old party is till date not able to digest the fact that they have lost power.”I think till now the Congress is not able to understand that they have lost power at the Centre. The government is following standards norms over the appointment of Army Chief and does not require the permission of 10, Janpath (Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s official residence),” said Naqvi, adding the government won?t allow the Congress to dictate terms as it did during its tenure at the Centre.Earlier on Saturday, the government announced the name of Lieutenant General Rawat as the new Chief of Army Staff and Air Marshal B.S. Dhanoa as the new Chief of Air Staff.Lieutenant General Rawat, who took over as the Army vice-chief in September 2016, bypassed Eastern Command chief Lieutenant General Praveen Bakshi (armoured corps) and Southern Army Command chief Lieutenant General PM Hariz (mechanised infantry).Lieutenant General Rawat has remarkable experience of serving in combat areas and at various functional levels in the Indian Army over the last three decades.He has handled various operational responsibilities in many areas, including along the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan, the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China and in the North-East.He is known for his balanced approach towards soldiering, compassion, and his connect with the civil society.

Army a public institution, nation needs answers on ‘supersession’: Congress on new Chief of Staff

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With the Centre announcing the name of Lieutenant General Bipin Rawat as the new Chief of the Army Staff superseding two seniors for the coveted post, the Congress on Sunday demanded an answer from the government over the decision, while asserting that the Army is a public institution and the nation deserves an answer.Lieutenant General Rawat, who took over as the Army vice-chief in September 2016, bypassed Eastern Command chief Lieutenant General Praveen Bakshi (armoured corps) and Southern Army Command chief Lieutenant General PM Hariz (mechanised infantry).After taking to Twitter to voice his annoyance with the decision, Congress leader Manish Tewari assured that this was not a personal attack on the new Chief of Staff but a legitimate question.
ALSO READ Lt Gen Bipin Rawat is next Army chief, Air Marshal Birender Dhanoa to head Air Force”With all due respect to General Rawat’s professionalism and brilliance as a soldier and no personal animosity to anybody, there is a legitimate question as to why has this supersession taken place. After all, Lt. Gen Praveen Bakshi who commands the Eastern Command, the Southern Army Commander Lt. Gen Mohammed Ali and the Central Army Commander are all senior to the gentleman who is being designated,” Tewari said.Reiterating his demand for an answer to the legitimate question as to why this supersession has taken place, the Congress leader added that the government?s defence saying the grand old party superseded in the 80s and therefore the ruling dispensation has the right to do so is complete ‘non sequitur’. Expressing disappointment over the controversy surrounding all high-level appointments during the NDA regime, the Communist Party of India (CPI) said that transparency should go along with integrity in the appointment of new Army Chief Lt. General. Bipin Rawat, adding the decision is not in the interest of democracy.Rawat was found the best suited among current batch of candidates of Lt. Generals, to deal with emerging challenges, including a reorganised and restructured military force in the north, continuing terrorism and proxy war from the west, and the situation in the North-East.According to Ministry of Defence (MoD) sources, Lt. Gen Rawat has tremendous hands on experience of serving in combat areas, and at various functional levels in the Indian Army over the last three decades. This is very unfortunate that the appointments in Army have become controversial. All the top-level appointments are becoming controversial. Transparency should go along with integrity and nobody should raise question. Now, questions are being raised and it is not new,” said CPI leader D. Raja.The CPI leader demanded a justification from the Centre and Defence Ministry over the new appointment of new Army Chief.”It is very unfortunate. This is not in the interest of our democracy, our country and of course there should be transparency. It is a question about the Army and not about any political party. Army belongs to the whole country and the nation should be convinced,” he said.Lieutenant General Rawat has remarkable experience of serving in combat areas and at various functional levels in the Indian Army over the last three decades.He has handled various operational responsibilities in many areas, including along the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan, the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China and in the North-East.He is known for his balanced approach towards soldiering, compassion, and his connect with the civil society.

DNA Morning Must Reads: New Army, Air Force chief; RBI officials held in currency fraud & more

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Lt Gen Bipin Rawat is next Army chief, Air Marshal Birender Dhanoa to head Air ForceThe Centre on Saturday named Lt Gen Bipin Rawat, Vice-Chief of the Indian Army as the next Army chief, succeeding General Dalbir Singh Suhag. The decision could trigger a controversy as Rawat has superseded Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi, who is heading the Eastern Command, and Lt Gen PM Hariz, heading the Southern Command. Read moreTwo more RBI officials held in currency exchange fraud, arrests a big blow to regulatorTwo more officials of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) were arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Saturday for their alleged role in currency conversion fraud cases. Read moreThree soldiers killed in militant attack on Army convoy in J&KMilitants sent a chilling reminder to the Mehbooba Mufti-led government on Saturday when they attacked an Army convoy on the strategic Srinagar-Jammu National Highway at Kadlabal, Pampore, in south Kashmir, leaving at least three army men dead. Read moreCricket prodigy Pranav Dhanawade’s brush with lawFifteen-year-old Pranav Dhanawade from Kalyan, who took the cricket world by storm with his 1,000-run world record knock in a local game in Mumbai in January 2016, was on Saturday detained by the police after he allegedly got into a spat with them on being prevented from practising on a ground being used as a makeshift helipad for a Union minister’s visit to the city. Read moreNo New Year cheer for gay couples as restaurants, bars shut their doorsSame sex couples wanting to ring in the New Year with a bang are in for a rude shock. Not only are high-end bars and nightclubs turning them away, they are actively stating that they will only accept heterosexual couples. Read more

Lt Gen Bipin Rawat is next Army chief: Govt has superseded two of the best senior officers

Many senior army officers will not only be surprised but also deeply dismayed at the government’s decision to supersede the Indian Army’s two most senior officers while appointing Lt Gen Bipin Rawat as the next Chief of Army Staff. For, not only has seniority been given the go-by, the two officers who command almost unparalleled professional respect have been humiliated.

Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi, the Commander-in-Chief of the Eastern Command, was widely expected to take over as the next chief. Many in the Army looked forward to that eagerly. Not only was he the senior most, he is respected as an exceptional officer.

The officer next in line, Lt Gen PM Hariz, is equally respected as an outstanding professional of rare calibre. He has also been superseded.


Lt Gen Bipin Rawat with be the next Chief of Army Staff. News18

General Bakshi had been the Chief of Staff of the Northern Command at Udhampur before he took over as Army Commander in the East. He has had hands-on experience of the current situations on the major fronts on which India faces threats from both Pakistan and China. He was perfectly trained, prepared and suited for the top job.

Some senior army officers have even compared generals Bakshi and Hariz — and Lt Gen BS Hooda, who retired at the end of last month as Commander-in-Chief of the Northern Command — with the exceptional General BC Joshi, who was chief in 1993-94. Some rate Joshi as the best Chief of Army Staff India has had since Field Marshal Manekshaw retired in January 1973.

“It is very rare to have three such extraordinary officers near the top of the pyramid at the same time,” another very senior officer had remarked earlier this year. Now, the country faces the prospect of losing all three officers. For, it is possible that Generals Bakshi and Hariz may resign rather than serve under their junior.

The worst part of this denouement is that it comes at a time when the country faces a huge security challenge from the Sino-Pak axis. It would be a grave error to think the challenge in Jammu and Kashmir is a thing of the past. Militant attacks keep occurring (three soldiers were killed in one of two attacks reported on Saturday). There has been a lot of infiltration over the past couple of years, and unrest in such disturbed districts as Pulwama continues.

To lose three extraordinarily fine top officers at such a juncture is a compromise on national security. More importantly, this could have an adverse effect on morale down the line — particularly in the higher echelons of a force that has been through a lot of hard knocks in the past few months. Both superseded officers are hero-worshipped by many senior officers.

The fact that Lt Gen Hariz is a Muslim is irrelevant in the Armed Forces, which are more inclusive than perhaps any other major national institution. However, given the doubts that hang over the current government’s commitment to the country’s secular ideal, both domestically and internationally, his supersession gives a negative signal.

The greater irony is that this move has come from a government run by a political formation that strongly criticised Prime Minister Indira Gandhi for years after she superseded Lt Gen SK Sinha in 1983. Until now, that was the only time in the life of the republic that the senior most officer in the army was superseded in the appointment of a new chief of army staff.

This sort of thing is far more common in Pakistan, where the army is much more political than the Indian Army has so far been. If supersessions become the accepted and expected norm, officers would tend to invest in relationships with political parties and build other sorts of political alignments in the course of their careers, hoping for rewards.

That would not be good for the army.

It would be even worse for the country.

First Published On : Dec 18, 2016 08:35 IST

Announcement of next army chief will be very soon, says Manohar Parrikar

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Friday said the announcement of the next army chief would be very soon. Parrikar along with three service chiefs paid tributes to the bravehearts who laid down their lives during 1971 India-Pakistan war on the occasion of Vijay Diwas. “I don’t have to stress the importance of the day. It’s a day when we achieved a decisive victory and created a new country,” Parrikar said.On this day in 1971, the chief of the Pakistani forces General Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi, along with 93,000 troops had surrendered unconditionally to the allied forces consisting of Indian Army and Mukti Bahini, led by General Jagjit Singh Aurora in Dhaka after their defeat in the war. The end of the war also resulted in subsequent secession of East Pakistan into Bangladesh.Special programmes are also being organised at the headquarters of the Eastern Command at the Fort William in Kolkata to celebrate the day.Led by Bangladesh Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan, a 72-member delegation of war veterans and Mukti Jodahas from the neighbouring country will take part in Vijay Diwas celebrations.

Mamata vs Army: Relationship with Bengal govt remains unchanged, says army official

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Notwithstanding West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s complaint about Army exercise at toll gates, a senior Army official on Monday said that its working relationship with the state government had not changed.”We have good communication at the local level. There has been no change in our working relationship,” Eastern Command’s Major General General Staff, Maj Gen R Nagraj, told reporters here. Earlier in the month, Banerjee had accused the Centre of deploying the Army at toll plazas in the state without informing the state government and described it as “unprecedented” and “a very serious situation worse than Emergency”. The CM had refused to leave her office in Kolkata till the armymen were withdrawn from toll plazas, and had asked whether it was an “Army coup”, drawing sharp reaction from the Centre.Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had last week written to the chief minister expressing “deep pain” over her allegations and said it can “adversely” impact the morale of the armed forces. Asked to comment on the allegation of collection of money by Army personnel, the Major General says that the Army is a powerful organisation and they do not tolerate such incidents.”There was no such news before us. This is against the ethos of the Indian Army,” he said. On Army’s preparedness to tackle challenges from across the border, Nagraj said they are always ready.”Given the current circumstances all units and formations of the Army are fully alert. We are ready for action and also for lending a helping hand to our fellow citizens,” he said.

Mamata vs Army: ‘Deeply hurt’ Parrikar writes to Bengal CM, Banerjee hits back

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The political row over the recent Army drill at toll plazas in West Bengal flared up again today with Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar dashing off a stinging letter to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, saying her allegations can “adversely” impact the morale of the force and the TMC chief hitting back over his “wild assertion”.In the two-page letter, Parrikar told her that he was “deeply pained” over the allegations regarding the deployment of the army personnel and that the same was not expected from a person of her standing and experience in public life. Parrikar said that while political parties and politicians may have the luxury of making “wild and unsubstantiated allegations against each other”, one needs to be extremely careful while referring to the armed forces.”Your allegations in this regard run the risk of adversely impacting the morale of the country’s armed forces and the same were not expected from a person of your standing and experience in public life,” the Minister said.Banerjee, who is a strident opponent of the Centre’s demonetization move, had accused it of deploying the army at toll plazas in West Bengal without informing the state government and described it as “unprecedented” and “a very serious situation worse than Emergency”. The Trinamool Congress stayed put in her office in Kolkata overnight in protest against the deployment and had asked whether it was an “army coup”.Terming it as “avoidable controversy” over the exercise carried out by the Eastern Command in West Bengal and other states under the jurisdiction to collect information about the movement of heavy vehicles at toll gates, Parrikar, in his letter dated December 8, said it is carried out by all formations of the army all across the country for many years. He said the exercises are held as per the dates convenient to the army in consultation with agencies of the state government.”I have been deeply pained by your allegations as reported in the media. If only you had enquired with the agencies concerned of the state government, you would have come to know of the extensive correspondence between the Army and the state agencies including the joint inspection of sites carried out by them,” Parrikar said. Hitting back, Banerjee said, “I take strong exception to your wild assertion that my articulation of the rights of the state government vis-a-vis Army deployment without clearance has impacted the morale of the armed forces.”Your general observations about the political parties and politicians to have the luxury of making wild and unsubstantiated allegations may be apt for your party, but we do not belong to that group,” she said in a two-page reply. The chief minister also maintained that the Ministry of Defence has not taken prior permission of the state government for large deployment of Army personnel in civilian areas.Parrikar said the army authorities were forced to put the record straight in the matter by presenting evidence of their communication with the state agencies concerned including rescheduling of the data collection operations on their response. TMC MP Derek O’ Brien charged the Centre with playing politics on the issue. “Look who is playing politics. The letter has not even reached the chief minister of Bengal and it has already been leaked in the media in Delhi.”

Make in Odisha receives Rs 2 lakh crore investment intent

Bhubaneswar: Odisha government today said it has received investment intent of Rs 2,03,270 crore in ten diversified sectors during ‘Make in Odisha Conclave’, which has the potential to generate more than 1.38 lakh additional jobs in the state.

File photo of Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik. PTIFile photo of Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik. PTI

File photo of Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik. PTI

“We are delighted with the response for this first ever conclave that we have organised. I hope to have continued support of industry for the overall socio-economic development of our citizens and position Odisha as the manufacturing hub of the East.

“The state government has decided to organise this conclave biannually as a stepping stone towards realising our Vision 2025 for the industrial development of the state,” Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said.

The state has received investment intent worth Rs 2,03,270 crore in sectors including fertiliser, petro chemicals, food processing, health, infrastructure, IT and ESDM,, metal and minerals, manufacturing, textiles and tourism, during the event that concluded today.

The major investors in the state are NTPC, MCL, SAIL, Tata Steel, Adani, JSPL, PPL and IOCL.

“Odisha should look to becoming a manufacturing hub by producing value added products instead of supplying raw materials and it (will) generate employment,” Union Minister of state for Power, Coal and Renewable Energy Piyush Goyal said.

“When I took over as a minister, one of the first instructions from Prime Minister Narendra Modi was to look east. The focus of development has to be on eastern states
including Odisha, West Bengal, Jharkhand, North East and Bihar.

“It is the considered view of the government that unless the eastern part of the country progress we cannot visualise a better India. It is very important that eastern states take rapid steps to make up for lost space in development,” Goyal added.

He further said that by 2018, every village in Odisha will have electricity.

“By May 2018, every village in Odisha will be connected with electricity. I am happy to say that things are in progress,” the minister said, adding that state will use coal cess to expand renewable energy.

“We will help Odisha to come in the map of major states to have renewable energy,” Goyal said.

Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas Dharmendra Pradhan said Eastern India, including Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal will be connected with natural gas pipeline.

The Centre is also planning an investment of Rs 13,000 crore in Odisha, he added.

Meanwhile, Odisha is expecting an overall investment of over Rs 30,000 crore in the urban development sector in next 5-7 years.

The state is planning to develop 86 projects, with a total investment of Rs 77,108 crore, over the next five years under the national smart city challenge for Bhubaneswar and Rourkela, G Mathi Vathanan, Commissioner-cum-Secretary said.

The Bhubaneswar Plan has 50 projects worth Rs 4,537 crore, of which Rs 2,725 crore are likely to be invested through PPP mode, while Rourkela Plan has 30 projects worth Rs 2,571 crore of which Rs 334 crore is expected to be invested through the PPP mode.

First Published On : Dec 2, 2016 20:24 IST

Demonetisation aftermath: Free rides over, be prepared to pay up at toll nakas from midnight

Planning to take the highway while travelling over the weekend? Be prepared to pay toll. The government had abolished toll at all national highways and state toll points following demonetisation of old Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes. But 23 days after the decision was taken, toll collection is set to resume from Saturday. All toll booths have been equipped with card swiping machines, so there might be long queues, as people pay toll using credit or debit cards.

In Mumbai, there are five toll booths for entry into the city. The toll booths, run by MEP Infrastructure Limited (MEPL), are located on the Sion Panvel highway at Vashi, Airoli Bridge in Airoli, Lalbahadur Shastri Marg and the Eastern Express Highway in Mulund, and the Western Express Highway in Dahisar. The minimum toll at all five booths is Rs 35, and motorists will have to pay this from midnight of 2 December. Moreover, there is also a toll naka on the Bandra-Worli sea-link, and this too shall carry a Rs 60 toll.

Representational image. AFPRepresentational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

Highest toll collection in the state of Maharashtra takes place on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway. Toll for the 95-kilometre road is Rs 99 for a one-way journey for a car.

Following the centre’s decision of demonetising old notes, Road and Surface Minister Nitin Gadkari had announced all national highways will waive off their respective tolls. Following this announcement, Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis also declared that toll nakas in the state, run by Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation (MSRDC), the Public Works Department (PWD) or by private companies, will all waive toll collection until 2 December.

According to the transport corporation of India and a study by the Indian Institute of Management (IIM), the average waiting time at a toll naka is three minutes. Going by this average, said RTI activist Sanjay Shirodkar, thousands of minutes and crores of rupees in the form of fuel, have been saved across the country.

However, toll free travelling is unlikely to become a reality any time soon. Talking to Firstpost, PWD minister Chandrakant Patil said it is just not possible to do so. “We are preparing a new transparent policy, to make small vehicles exempt from paying toll. There is an option of buy back in the agreement, which is what the Congress-NCP government had done before. The new government, which has been in power for two years, has shut 12 toll nakas permanently, while 53 others have exempted small vehicles from paying toll. The government has paid Rs 798 crore on account of this,” Patil said.

He added that the state will follow the Centre’s directives to National Highways; if the latter will become toll free, roads in Maharashtra will follow suit. “Over the last 23 days, the five toll nakas in Mumbai — each earning an average daily collection of Rs 1.97 crore — have all incurred losses. If the extension is to continue, the period of toll collection will also increase,” he pointed out.

First Published On : Dec 2, 2016 20:20 IST

Cheap political stunt to defame Govt and Indian Army: BJP hits back at Mamata Banerjee

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>With Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee alleging that the army has been deployed at two toll plazas in West Bengal without informing the state government, Union Information and Broadcasting Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu on Friday dubbed it as a ‘cheap political stunt’ done to defame the government and drag the army into an ‘unnecessary controversy’. Talking to the media, Naidu said it is a mischievous and a dirty campaign launched by some political opponents about a routine army drill in different states of the country. ‘This is an ongoing exercise, collecting data in all the north-eastern states, including Assam, Arunachal, West Bengal, Manipur, Nagaland, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram. This is by eastern command of the army….this is an annual exercise carried out every year. In the same location, and in the same state, last year the exercise was carried out between 19 and 21 November,’ he said.‘Similar exercise is being carried out in Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and in Bihar from 26 October to November 1 under the south western command……… It is a cheap political stunt to defame the govt & drag army into unnecessary controversy with does not exist,’ he added. Launching attack at Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi for his ‘TRP politics’ comment on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Naidu said the grand old party is themselves doing politics as they are becoming ‘irrelevant’. ‘What is TRP’ You people are doing TRPs because you are becoming irrelevant. People have rejected your Bandh call, they have rejected your Akhrosh rally, you are divided badly, you don’t have a common strategy, you have n argument to put forth to the country. That is why you are not allowing the house,’ he added.He said that the Congress Party is held band upon committing contempt of democracy. ‘The Prime Minister is the darling of the masses. He has taken a historic and a bold decision, the entire world is appreciating his movement towards digital transfer….they are making unnecessary absurd allegation. The congress is not constructive they are obstructive,’ he added.Army reject Mamata’s claims Army strongly rebutted Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s allegations that its personnel were deployed at toll plazas without informing the state government and were collecting money, saying the exercise was being carried out in coordination with Kolkata Police. “This is being done in coordination with local police authorities. The exercise was earlier planned for November 27 and 28. The dates were changed to November 30 to December 2 on a specific request by Kolkata Police due to Bharat Bandh called on November 28,” said GOC Bengal area (officiating) Maj Gen Sunil Yadav.Reacting to the Chief Minister’s allegations he said, “We deny all charges with all contempt.” “Allegations of collection of money by Army personnel are also totally baseless,” the officiating GOC Bengal Area said.Mamata had yesterday alleged that the army had been deployed without informing the state government. “This is unprecedented and a very serious matter”, she had said.She had also claimed that the army personnel were collecting money from vehicles, which they were not supposed to. Maj Gen Yadav said a similar exercise in Eastern Command was carried out in November 2015 at the same places. The Maj Gen said that a recce was conducted with two inspectors of the Kolkata Police at toll plaza on November 27 last.”The issues raised by the police were addressed and were telephonically informed to the police,” he said. The exercise will continue as planned earlier and will end tonight, he said.Army tonight said they are conducting routine exercise with full knowledge and coordination with West Bengal police. “Army conducting routine exercise with full knowledge & coord with WB Police. Speculation of army taking over toll plaza incorrect,” a statement by the Eastern command said on Twitter.”Routine exercise in all NE states. In [email protected] places, Arunanchal @13, [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], Tripura & [email protected]″, it said. Kolkata Police, however, said they have raised objection to this Army exercise due to security reasons and traffic problem. “Army exercise at Toll Plaza was objected to in writing by Kolkata Police, citing security reasons & traffic inconvenience,” the city police said in a twitter message tonight.West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that the Army was deployed at toll plazas in different places in the state without informing the state government and termed it as “unprecedented and a very serious matter”. She further said “Whatever reason they are giving is not correct. They are lying. They are changing their reasons time to time. The MHA has the complete data of the vehicles moving in different states in the country”. Earlier, a defence spokesperson said that the Army conducts bi-ennial exercise throughout the country with the aim of getting statistical data about the load carriers that could be made available to the army in case of a contingency.”There is nothing alarming about this and it is carried out as per government orders”, Wing Commander S S Birdi said. The exercise gives an estimate about the number of vehicles passing through a certain area that could be tapped during operations, he said.With inputs from agencies

Mamata vs Army: TMC MLAs stage dharna, Army to continue exercise till midnight

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Trinamool Congress MLAs and other senior leaders of the party staged a sit-in demonstration in front of the Governor’s House and will stay there till the army withdraws its exercise of collecting data on load carriers operating in the state of West Bengal.The senior leaders, some of them ministers in Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s cabinet are also a part of the sit-in. With black cloth tied around their mouth, the party leaders raised slogans against the army’s exercise. While Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi is likely to meet a Trinamool Congress delegation around 6 pm on Friday evening, MLAs allege that they are going to continue their protests till the exercise is withdrawn.Meanwhile, the army clarified its stand on the exercise and maintained that it will continue till midnight as scheduled. “The three-day routine exercise was scheduled from November 30 till December 2 and under no circumstances will it be withdrawn. Out of the total 19 places that have been identified, statistical data collection at two places is over. Data will be collected in the remaining 17 places till midnight today,” said Major General Sunil Yadav, officiating GOC – Bengal Area, while briefing media at the Army Eastern Command Headquarters on Friday.

Army deployment in West Bengal echoes in Parliament: TMC alleges dictatorship; BJP says routine exercise

New Delhi: The row over army taking over road toll plazas in West Bengal on Friday echoed in Parliament with Trinamool Congress (TMC) seeing “sinister” designs behind the move and the government vehemently denying the charge, saying it was a routine exercise conducted in full knowledge of the local authorities.

The issue was raised in both Houses of Parliament with main opposition Congress too seeking clarification on the army deployment at 19 toll plazas in West Bengal. In Lok Sabha, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar termed it a “routine exercise not unique to West Bengal” and saying that similar operations to collect information on heavy vehicle movement that can be used during national emergencies had last month being conducted in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand.

Along with West Bengal, similar exercise was carried out in Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland, Tripura, Meghlaya and Mizoram, he said while responding to TMC and Congress MPs. He also stated that originally the exercise was planned for 28-30 November but was shifted to 1 and 2 December at the request of Kolkata police as those dates were clashing with the protests against demonetisation.

“It is shocking that a chief minister is saying this. The Army’s deployment was part of routine exercise which has been going on for last 15-20 years. Even last year it was held on 19 to 21 November,” Parrikar said.


Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. PTI

The minister said Army’s Eastern Command has been carrying out the exercise in West Bengal, Assam and other North Eastern states and a similar exercise has already been carried out in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand.  “Concerned officials were informed in West Bengal. The original date was fixed for 28 to 30 November but due to Bharat Bandh the local police had advised the army to shift it to 1 and 2 December,” he said. “Due to traffic congestion, the exercise is being done with the help of local police.”

TMC leaders in both Houses alleged that neither the state government, nor local administration including police were taken into confidence on the exercise or their permission sought. Congress and BSP too wanted to know from the government how such an unprecedented move to carry out an army exercise without taking state government into confidence was done.

“It was very unfortunate that army has been dragged into an unnecessary controversy,” Parrikar said. “It was political frustration rather than projection of correct situation.”

As soon as Lok Sabha assembled this morning, TMC leader Sudip Bandyopadhyay raised the issue of army deployment at 19 places in West Bengal, claiming that the move was a challenge to the federal structure of the country and completely politically motivated.

He said army personnel were deployed at these places, including near the state secretariat, “without informing anyone in the state secretariat”. “It is a fantastic situation. Army today said that it was a routine exercise being carried out in the North Eastern states. But West Bengal does not come under the territorial jurisdiction of the Northeast,” he said.

Bandyopadhyay said the people of the country have great faith in the Army but if indeed such an exercise was scheduled, the Centre should have communicated to the state government. He said Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has been staging a ‘dharna’ in the Secretariat demanding withdrawal of the Army. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar asked the TMC not to drag Army into politics and added that the defence personnel have been protecting the country as well as democracy.

“Whatever the army has done was part of a routine exercise. It is completely wrong to drag army into politics,” he said. Raising the issue in Rajya Sabha, Leader of Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said army is India’s pride as it has upheld its unity and integrity beside protecting the borders. It has also come to the rescue during emergency situtions like flood and riots, he said adding that army is requisitioned at the request of a state government.

But in West Bengal, the chief secretary, administration and Director General of Police had no information of army taking over toll plazas at 19 locations in the state, he said. “This is probably the first time that the chief minister of West Bengal has lodged this kind of protest where she stayed put for the night in the State Secretariat and is still there,” he said. “This is a strange thing happening. Without asking state government, chief secretary or DGP, toll plazas of state government are taken over.”

Azad said it is being said that Army was collecting information on truck movements but such an exercise is not even done in Jammu and Kashmir. All such information is available with National Highways Authority of India or road transport departments. “This is an issue of grave concern.” Sukhendu Sekhar Roy (TMC) said what happened in West Bengal has never been witnessed in the state’s history. Army seized toll plazas and started putting stickers on vehicles.

“I will not drag the army in any controversy. We are very proud of the army,” he said wanting to know under what provisions of law and Constitution was such a deployment carried out and alleging “sinister design” to “defame the leader opposing demonetisation” and creating “fear psychosis”.

Mayawati, BSP supremo and former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh said the move to deploy army without the state government’s permission was an attack on the federal structure of the country. Terming the statements as factually incorrect, Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre said such exercises have been carried out in coordination with the local police.

Earlier the exercise was planned for 28 November but was shifted on specific request by Kolkata Police in view of the Bharat Bandh, he said, adding that the exercise was to ascertain availability of vehicles during national emergency. The annual exercise are carried out for collection of data and similar exercises were also carried out in Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, he said, adding that letters were written to the Police Commissioner as well as District Magistrates for conducting it.

At this point, slogan-shouting TMC and Congress members contested the minister’s statement and trooped into the Well. Deputy Chairman P J Kurien had a tough time controlling the situation and even had an angry spat with Congress members including Pramod Tiwari as they continued to shout even when he stood up to control the noisy scenes.

“If you don’t know the basic rule of not disturbing the Chair, you are not deserving to be a member,” he angrily remarked without naming any member. “Mr Tiwari, I will take action against you.    This is unheard of that the Chair will not be allowed to say,” he said as members piped down and returned to their places.

Kurien said if the members found any part of the statement made by the minister as misleading or incorrect, they can invoke the rule book and give notice. Roy continued to insist that the minister was misleading. “If any member or minister misleads the House, give notice, chairman will consider it,” Kurien said.

As Roy continued to insist that the minister was misleading the House by saying that the state government had been informed, treasury benches joined in to protest. At this point, an angry Kurien snapped at Bhupender Yadav (BJP) saying “shut up… you are not in the Chair.” Roy said the minister was not stating if specific permission was taken for December 1 deployment and comparing
the exercise to national emergency.

I&B Minister M Venkaiah Naidu said the reference to emergency was to situations like floods or tsunami and said similar exercises are annually carried out and had happened in West Bengal previously as well. And recently, it has been carried out in Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Bihar, and along with West Bengal it was also being carried out in North Eastern states, he said, adding “it
is a sensitive matter. Let us not politise it.”

Kurien told Roy that he can give a notice on any misleading statement being made in the House and he will consider it. Derek O’Brien raised a Point of Order under Rule 249 related to authentication of papers laid by the government on the floor of the House.

He claimed that it is “selective placing of papers” by the government and added that he will place some papers on the floor of the House to prove his point on Monday.

First Published On : Dec 2, 2016 15:13 IST

Bengal: Army says it is conducting routine exercise with police coordination

Kolkata: Army on Thursday night said they are conducting routine exercise with full knowledge and coordination with West Bengal police.

“Army conducting routine exercise with full knowledge & coord with WB Police. Speculation of army taking over toll plaza incorrect,” a statement by the Eastern command said on Twitter.

File photo of Mamata Banerjee. PTI

File photo of Mamata Banerjee. PTI

“Routine exercise in all NE states. In [email protected] places, Arunanchal @13, [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], Tripura & [email protected]”, it said.

Kolkata Police, however, said they have raised objection to this Army exercise due to security reasons and traffic problem.

“Army exercise at Toll Plaza was objected to in writing by Kolkata Police, citing security reasons & traffic inconvenience,” the city police said in a Twitter message on Thursday night.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that the Army was deployed at toll plazas in different places in the state without informing the state government and termed it as “unprecedented and a very serious matter”.

She further said, “Whatever reason they are giving is not correct. They are lying. They are changing their reasons time to time. The MHA has the complete data of the vehicles moving in different states in the country.”

Earlier, a defence spokesperson said that the Army conducts biennial exercise throughout the country with the aim of getting statistical data about the load carriers that could be made available to the army in case of a contingency.

“There is nothing alarming about this and it is carried out as per government orders”, Wing Commander SS Birdi said.

The exercise gives an estimate about the number of vehicles passing through a certain area that could be tapped during operations, he said.

First Published On : Dec 2, 2016 09:16 IST

Atrocious to imply youth have joined ISIS with my influence, I condemn all acts of terrorism: Zakir Naik

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Asserting that he has always condemned terrorism or killing of any innocent human, controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik on Monday said it is atrocious even to imply that some youth, who have joined the ISIS, are influenced by him.”I am followed by more than 100 million people from across the world through television, Facebook and YouTube. Alhumdulillah, tens of thousands of people have come closer to Islam after listening to my talks and videos on topics that have ranged from misconceptions about Islam, Qur’an, Modern Science, education, women’s rights in Islam, family issues, Islamic view on terrorism and Jihad and many others,” Naik told ANI.Asserting that he inspires many to come closer to Islam, Naik said his every follower may not do everything he says.”Once a person comes closer to Islam, there are possibilities that he is exposed to other speakers as well, some of whom misguide them in the name of Islam. They encourage them to kill innocent people, which is totally against the Qur’an. If you listen to my talks, you will not find a single video where I have condoned terrorism or killing any innocent human beings,” he added.Naik also asserted that he has been giving lectures for more than 20 years, adding there is not a single event where he has ever encouraged anyone to kill any other innocent human being.”In the media and elsewhere, I am being misquoted through half sentences and out of context clips, which try to give an impression that I promote terrorism. I am totally against terrorism. I condemn all acts of terrorism, including killing of innocent human beings, which is considered as the second major sin in Islam. Islam and Qur’an are totally against all acts of terrorism, including killing of innocent human beings and that is what I’ve always preached,” he said.”I am sure you agree that I have good oratory skills. So if I was really spreading terror, wouldn’t I have made a few lakh terrorists by now? Not just a handful? The fact is that I have always preached peace and harmony and how to become good human beings by following Qur’anic tenets,” he added.While asserting that in a fan following of millions there may be a handful of anti-social elements who will go astray and take up violence, Naik said they are surely not following what he has told them, adding the moment they pick up senseless violence they cease to be Islamic and they surely lose his support.Refuting links of the ISIS to IRF, Naik dubbed it as ‘pure fabrication’.He further alleged that there is a concerted effort by the government and its agencies to create an air of negativity around him and label him as a hatemonger.”Till date, they have not provided a single proof to substantiate their claims. That’s because none exist and all that agencies are claiming are chatter and nothing else. What I am doing now is the same work I have been doing for 25 years. Do you really think my so-called ‘terrorist activities’ would have been hidden from multiple intelligence agencies for so long,” he said.Naik also said he is in no position to confirm or refute reports regarding IRF funding Anas, a youth from Rajasthan who apparently has joined the ISIS.”I can tell you that it is highly improper and childish to allege that IRF’s scholarship money was used to ‘fund terror’. That’s not possible because the scholarship amount goes straight to the institution and not to the student. Once the student submits the fee structure of his institution, a cheque is made out in the name of the institution and sent directly to the institution,” he said.”In some cases, the student may have paid the fees by taking loans or organising money from someone if the last date will be due. In such a case, IRF pays to the student’s account directly. Can anyone digest the claim that IRF funds terror and out of Rs 64 crores received in past 25 years, used only Rs. 80,000 for funding terror,” he added.The controversial Islamic preacher further said the IRF funds education of underprivileged children across the country, adding the NGO has been doing the same for several years now.”It gives scholarships of more than Rs. one crore every year. Scholarships are given in the field of medicine, engineering, management studies accountancy, etc. Thousands of needy students have benefitted from it over the years,” he added.Asserting that IRF carries out several social programmes in education and health by donating money to several other NGOs, hospitals and educational institutions, Naik said it is done by granting scholarships to needy students and donating money to hospitals for treatment of the poor.”The IRF also runs its own free medical clinic in Mumbra, Mumbai that gives free treatment to more than 5,000 patients a month. Under a similar programme, IRF donated Rs. 50 lakh to Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust (RGCT) few years ago, which the Trust later returned in July 2016 for reasons better known to them,” he added.On allegations of money laundering by IRF in the funds received from abroad, Naik alleged that there is a concerted witch hunting going on with an objective of implicating him by hook or by crook.”The 47 crore in question came from my personal account in Dubai to my personal account in Mumbai in the last six plus years. It was duly declared by me in the returns and used for lawful activities including giving gifts and loans to my family members. I don’t know where is the problem in that? The media has claimed that the government authorities disclosed that Dr Zakir Naik’s family members have received money from Middle Eastern countries,”he said.”I challenge the authorities to prove that any of my immediate family members have received even a small fraction of the 47 crores from Middle Eastern countries they are claiming,” he added.

Mumbai: 6 dead. 3 injured after taxi turns turtle in Dongri

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Six people have died and three have been injured after a taxi turned turtle on Saturday in Dongri in Mumbai. The injured have been taken to JJ Hospital. As per a Mid-day report, the accident took place at 9.00 am on the Eastern Freeway in south Mumbai. It led to a massive traffic jam on Eastern Express Highway’s south-bound stretch. The police is probing into the accident.Further details are awaited.

India police kill ’18 Maoist rebels’

Police in India say they have killed at least 18 Maoist rebels in the eastern state of Orissa.

India, China hold joint army exercise in Ladakh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> In a first, India and China on Wednesday carried out a joint army exercise in eastern Ladakh in Jammu and Kashmir, a move that comes amid hectic diplomatic manoeuvring between the two countries over a host of issues like Nuclear Suppliers Group and designation of Masood Azhar as a terrorist by the UN.During the day long exercise on Humanitarian Aid and Disaster Relief (HADR) a fictitious situation of earthquake striking an Indian Border village was painted. Thereafter joint teams carried out rescue operations, evacuation and rendering of medical assistance. This was done as a sequel to the first Joint Exercise held on February 6 in the area of Border Personnel Meeting Hut at Chushul Garrison of Eastern Ladakh, along with Chinese troops of Moldo Garrison.Sources said that in February, the exercise was held in the Chinese side and this time in the Indian side along the line of Actual Control. The Indian team for the exercise was led by Brigadier R S Raman and that of the Chinese was led by Sr Col Fan Jun. The exercise was a great success and has not only refined the drills to provide succour to the border population in case of natural calamity but has also increased the level of trust and cooperation between the two border guarding forces along the LAC in Eastern Ladakh, the Army said in a statement here.The joint exercise, compliments the Hand in Hand series of the India-China joint exercises and the effort of both the nations to enhance cooperation and maintain peace and tranquillity along the border areas of India and China, it said. This year’s edition of ‘Hand in Hand’ will be held at Aundh, near Pune in Maharashtra, from November 15 to 27.

India doubts Pakistan’s intention to fight terrorism, says Rajnath Singh

<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Addressing a ‘Regional Editors Conference’ Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said that if Pakistan is serious about fighting terror, then India is ready to help them eradicate it, but added that he had doubts about Islamabad’s intention to fight terrorism mushrooming in its own backyard.”Pakistan has forgotten the difference between terrorists and freedom fighters. Terrorism in India is mostly sponsored from across the border…If Pakistan is serious about fighting terror then we are ready to help them eradicate terror, but their intention is not that,” Singh said, referring clearly to the September 18 Uri terror attack.”Cyber crime is also a major challenge and we are working towards tackling it, as the National Security Council has taken it up,” he addedTo safeguard against cross-border terror, Singh asserted that the international border with Pakistan will be sealed by December 2018.”We have also strengthened India’s coastal security post the 2008 Mumbai terror attack. Our security agencies are better prepared today. We have (also) stepped up vigil in the North Eastern region alongside the international borders with Bangladesh, Bhutan and Myanmar,” he added.

Brics meet in Goa: Can India call Pakistan’s bluff on terrorism and win over world opinion?

Ever since Jim O’Neill, former chairman of Goldman Sachs asset management, coined the term Bric for four powerful economies — Brazil, Russia, India and China — in their 2001 paper, The World Needs Better Economic BRICs, the regional grouping has caught the world’s attention. With South Africa joining the club in 2010, BRICS commanded an even bigger influence. It soon evolved into a group with a significant say over the political-economic affairs of the world. Take a look at what Brics means to the world today.

(from left) Michel Temer, Narendra Modi, Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin and Jacob Zuma ahead of the 8th Brics Summit. Twitter @BRICS2016(from left) Michel Temer, Narendra Modi, Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin and Jacob Zuma ahead of the 8th Brics Summit. Twitter @BRICS2016

(from left) Michel Temer, Narendra Modi, Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin and Jacob Zuma ahead of the 8th Brics Summit. Twitter @BRICS2016

According to certain estimates, Brics constitutes nearly half of the world population, one-third of the world’s GDP and close to one-fifth of the world’s trade. The grouping has three heavyweights — China, Russia and India, that practically controls the region, both politically and economically and is seen as an Eastern power centre. The point of highlighting these statistic is to say how critical is the summit slated to be held in Goa on 15, 16 October to the region and the Western world.

In the recent past, Brics has gradually begun to set the stage for a new world economic order.

The formation of the New Development Bank (NDB), also known as BRICS development bank is a big example. Set up in 2014, the NDB sent a signal to the world that the region wants an institution that can eventually offer an alternative to existing multilateral agencies such as International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank and Asian Development Bank (ADB) and that the new body will be more sensitive to the needs of region.

Going by the initial contours, the NDB will have a corpus of $50 billion divided equally between its five founding members, with an initial total of $10 billion in cash put over seven years and $40 billion in guarantees. Another $50 billion is expected to come from other members who join in later. Besides, there will be a currency chest of $100 billion to help member countries meet their emergency cash requirements. China will contribute the largest share of $41 billion to the reserve. Russia, India and Brazil will contribute $18 billion each, while South Africa will contribute $5 billion. One Indian—K V Kamath, former chairman ICICI Bank—is the first chief of BRICS bank. The Goa meet will be looked closely to know how the grouping wants to grow the BRICS development bank from here.

Second, according to reports, the Brics countries are now considering forming a new global credit rating agency for emerging markets to challenge the dominance of western credit rating agencies like Moody’s, Standard and Poor’s and Fitch, whose observations and rating decisions have often come under heavy criticism by some of the developing markets including India. For instance, India has, in the past, challenged the methodology followed by rating agency Moody’s saying the agency has ignored the reforms initiated by the government and it should not wait “till infinity” for them to take root before upgrading the country’s sovereign rating. Presently, there are no alternatives for the eastern world to challenge the dominance of the ‘big three’ of the West. Here again, the Brics meet this weekend will be watched for clues.

Besides the economic factors, the Brics meet this time assumes even more significance in the context of the growing threat of terrorism originating from Pakistan and its impact on rest of the world. India, which managed to completely isolate Pakistan from the Saarc countries in the aftermath of a series of border terrorist attacks by Pakistan-based elements (the latest being Uri), will most likely take up the issue of the Pakistan factor in the Brics meeting. India has already raised concerns on Russia’s suspicious bonhomie with Pakistan, though Russia has openly expressed its willingness to support India’s fight against terrorism.

Similarly, China’s growing influence in Pakistan and China’s economic aid to that country is a matter of concern for India. As Firstpost has noted before, Pakistan economy’s dependence on China to improve its fortunes is so high that a recent World Bank report warned that Pakistan’s prospects of growing even at at modest five percent a year are at risk due to delays in the implementation of the $46-billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects. India is looking at this progress closely, given that it sees potential threats from China. There is a possibility that India will raise its concerns to Brics partners about the danger of extending economic and military aid to Pakistan. Whether India manages to convince the Brics partners about its stance on Pakistan and the need to isolate the country in the larger interest of the region, needs to be seen.

In this backdrop, the Goa meet of Brics isn’t just another event for the world, the region and India, in particular. The meet has crucial, unprecedented significance. Beyond the regional issues, the Goa meet will be watched by the world to gauge how the regional group is silently building a new world order brick by brick that the West can’t ignore any longer.

Data contributed by Kishor Kadam

Kolkata: Impostor caught from Army’s Eastern Command headquarters

Army officials on Thursday caught an impostor who was seen loitering inside Fort William, headquarters of the Eastern Command, dressed as a Major General.Upon suspicion, the accused Promit Kumar Mitra was questioned by security and was found to be an impostor, officials said. He was caught moving around Fort William premises and taking photographs.Later on, he was handed over to the police, officials said.

Northern Command of Army joins twitter to interact with the masses

Jammu: In a bid to counter the use of social networking sites by militants, the Northern Command of the Army has joined the social media platform to interact with people of Jammu and Kashmir.

Twitter feed of Northern Command of Indian Army. Twitter/ @NorthernComd_IATwitter feed of Northern Command of Indian Army. Twitter/ @NorthernComd_IA

Twitter feed of Northern Command of Indian Army. Twitter/ @NorthernComd_IA

General Officer Commanding-in Chief (GOC-in-C) of the Northern Command, Lt Gen D S Hooda, in his first tweet wrote “presence of Norther Comd on Twitter is a step towards involving our citizens in activities of Indian Army in J&K”.

In his second tweet, Lt Gen Hooda wrote that he looks forward for a positive interaction through this forum.

Earlier, the Army in Jammu and Kashmir had used Twitter and Facebook to reach to the common masses to make them aware of the initiatives taken by it under Operation Sadbhavana but the new official Twitter account would enable the people interact with the senior most army officer in the state.

“The militants in Kashmir have been actively using social media to spread their message across and it was a high time for the Army to do the perception management by showing its presence on the social media and opening of the twitter handle on which the senior most officer in the state would respond is a step towards this direction”, an army officer said.

Apart from the Northern Command, the Eastern Command also has been granted permission to operate an official Twitter handle to interact with the netizens.

West Bengal: Engine train rams goods train; guard critically injured

A goods train derailed and its guard was critically injured when a train engine rammed it from behind in Asansol division of Eastern Railway on Saturday evening, triggering disruption of services, ER officials said.As the engine hit the stationary goods train, several of its rear coaches, including the guard’s cabin derailed injuring the guard, MC Khan, critically, they said. The incident occurred at around 7.30 PM in the up line between Kalubathan and Khatan Nagar stations under Asansol division.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The engine sent from Asansol station was supposed to help the goods train move forward by pushing it from behind as its own engine has not been able to pull it, officials said, adding the speed of the engine was much higher than it was supposed to be which led to the derailment.The derailment triggered disruption of services in which several major trains including two Rajdhani Expresses were stranded, they said. Howrah and Sealdah Rajdhanis were stranded at Barakar and Asansol stations respectively. The two trains left the stations at around 10 PM via diverted routes. Senior officials have reached the spot and attempts are being made to clear the track, officials said.

Air pollution to cause 6-9 million premature deaths by 2060; India, China face maximum threat: OECD report

Air pollution could cause 6-9 million premature deaths by 2060, with India and China facing threat of maximum number of such mortalities, according to an OECD report.The menace is also likely to cost 1% of the global GDP, around $2.6 trillion annually, in terms of sick days, medical bills and reduced agricultural output, says the report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>’The Economic Consequences of Air Pollution’ report said the outdoor air pollution caused more than 3 million premature deaths in 2010.”Outdoor air pollution could cause 6 to 9 million premature deaths a year by 2060 and cost 1% of global GDP around $2.6 trillion annually as a result of sick days, medical bills and reduced agricultural output, unless action is taken,” the report said.The projections imply a doubling, or even tripling, of premature deaths from dirty air or one premature death every four or five seconds by 2060, it added.”The biggest rise in mortality rates from air pollution are forecast in India, China, Korea and Central Asian countries like Uzbekistan, where rising population and congested cities mean more people are exposed to power plant emissions and traffic exhaust,” it said.Premature death rates are forecast to be up to three times higher in 2060 than in 2010 in China and up to four times higher in India, it said.The report said a large number of deaths occur in densely populated regions with high concentrations of PM2.5 and ozone, especially China and India, and in regions with aging populations, such as China and Eastern Europe.However, death rates are seen stabilising in the United States and falling in much of Western Europe due to efforts to move to cleaner energy and transport.Talking about projected GDP losses, the report said it will be biggest in China, Russia, India, Korea and countries in Eastern Europe and the Caspian region, as health costs and lower labour productivity hit output.”Poor air quality will hit China’s economy harder than India’s because differences in household savings rates and demographics mean the knock-on effects of lower productivity and increased health spending on the rest of the Chinese economy will be much larger,” OECD said.One key difference between the two countries is the age structure of the population: India has a much younger population, while aging is projected to become a more severe problem in China, as per the report.

No recent case of misuse of AFSPA in North East: Army

Defending the imposition of the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in the North East, the Army on Monday said there was no recent cases of misuse of the law in the region.”In Eastern Command, during the time I have spent here, there has not been a single incident which has been reported where AFSPA has not been used for the right reason,” Eastern Army Commander Lieutenant General Praveen Bakshi said. He said if there was any breach of AFSPA it was dealt with firmly by the Army.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”If the Army is required to handle insurgency, we require AFSPA. If we don’t have AFSPA, our hands are tied and we cannot do our job. It is an enabling provision and not a draconian provision,” he said. Various human rights organisations have long been demanding repeal of the AFSPA which they call a “draconian” law. In Manipur, rights activist Irom Chanu Sharmila has been on a fast-unto-death for 15 years demanding withdrawal of AFSPA. She is forcibly nose-fed at a government hospital in Imphal.

PM Modi in Shillong: Centre committed to North East’s welfare

Shillong: The government is committed to the welfare of the northeastern India, especially the women of the region, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday after laying the foundation stone of a new football stadium here.

File photo of Narendra Modi.

PM Modi also inaugurated passenger train services to Mizoram and Manipur on the newly-laid broad gauge line, and the Kamakhya-Katra weekly train from Assam to J&K. File photo

Modi laid the foundation stone of a football stadium which is being constructed in Shillong at a cost of Rs 38 crore.

“Foundation stone of a football stadium has been laid. This region has a great talent in sports, particularly football. Football is a passion here and it is played in each and every nook and corner of the state and the region,” said Modi.

The prime minister also inaugurated passenger train services to Mizoram and Manipur on the newly-laid broad gauge line, and the Kamakhya-Katra weekly train from Assam to Jammu and Kashmir.

“The government is committed to the development in the northeast region, the Self Help Groups (SHG), particularly the women SHGs. Keeping this in mind, the government has also approved a special package for the northeast,” the prime minister said at the North Eastern Council meeting here.

He said he wanted to see the northeastern region shine in the organic farming sector.

“I am particularly keen to see the northeast shine in the organic farming sector. Northeast can become the organic food basket of India,” said Modi, who is the first prime minister in the last two decades to attend the NEC plenary meeting.

He said the central government’s focus on the northeast is manifested in its ‘Act East Policy’.

“We want to particularly improve connectivity, infrastructure and tourism,” said Modi.

The North Eastern Council (NEC) is the nodal agency for channelising the funds for economic and social development in the region.

The prime minister said Agartala, the capital of Tripura, has become the third international location to be connected to Cox Bazar of Bangladesh, which would further aid the social and ecomomic empowerment of the northeastern region.

Who will cook your Indian curry?

Nick Robinson looks at why curry houses appear to be Eurosceptic.

Fancy Spanish-built Talgo train may not be well suited for Indian travellers

Even as the Railways prepares to put on trial the Spanish-built Talgo train between Mathura-Palwal starting June 1, the debate among babudom is whether these trains are suited for the average Indian commuter.Pictures available exclusively with dna of the interiors of a few coaches of the Talgo train parked at Izatnagar workshop in Uttar Pradesh show that they are for light travellers with luggage storage space much less than traditional Indian rakes. Travelling light, officials agreed, is not the characteristic of a majority of Indian commuters.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Talgo coaches have seats set close to each other, like in planes, and just a normal luggage rack along the top side of the coach, akin to what we see in Mumbai’s local trains. The space between the seats which face each other- with a wall-mounted table in between- also hardly leave any space for anything bigger than a briefcase.”These are trains that are good for distances of 250-500 km, anything above will trouble the passenger. Moreover travelling light might be predominant in Europe, where these trains belong to. India is a different proposition. We have people in reserved and air-conditioned compartments carrying even farm produce- rice, wheat, coconuts etc- when they return from native villages. These foreign trainsets, with their spartan interiors, might be a challenge,” agreed an official.When asked whether such foreign trains- like Talgo and the train sets India plans to procure- are more for the casual traveler, Hemant Kumar, member (mechanical), Railway Board, just said that whenever orders for such trains are placed, it would be in a way that best suits the Railways and the Indian passenger. Kumar is the Railways’ highest authority when it comes to manufacturing trains and rolling stock.As reported earlier by dna, the nine-coach Talgo train is in North Eastern Railway’s Izatnagar Workshop in UP where the train, after its journey from Mumbai Port, is being assembled. It will be tested at speeds of 180kmph between Mathura and Palwal and also on the full Mumbai-Delhi route.

Spanish Talgo train arrives at the Izatnagar Workshop in Uttar Pradesh

The first coach of Spanish trainmaker Talgo’s 9-coach trainset arrived late on Tuesday at the Izatnagar Workshop of North Eastern Railway at Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh.The train had left from Mumbai Port Trust on May 7 and carried on multi-axle trucks called mafis. The rest of the 8 coaches are expected in the next couple of days, said NER officials.NER said that the train will have to be re-assembled at the Izatnagar workshop before being deployed for trials.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The wheelset of the first coach of the Spanish Talgo train arriving at Izatnagar Workshop in UP from Mumbai
ALSO READ Spanish train Talgo leaves Mumbai for UPThe trials should start by the end of May or early June. It will be the first time a completely imported trainset is put on trial on the Indian Railways. While the Vehicle Dynamics Simulation report conducted by Talgo on Indian tracks has certified the speed capability of the tracks at 198 kilometre per hour, railway officials told dna the Mathura-Palwal trial will be at standard speed of 180 kmph. “One coach will have oscillograph and other speed trial equipment, and the train will be pulled by a WDP4 or WAP5 locomotive capable of pulling to speeds of 180kmph,The trials will test the stability of the train, its top speed in Indian track conditions and the emergency braking distance. It could herald a new era if the trials are successful ” said an official.

Repeal AFSPA in North East: BJD, Cong members’ demand in LS

New Delhi: A demand was made in the Lok Sabha today for repeal of the “draconian” Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in the North-East, with a few members saying it was the biggest deterrent in integrating the youth of the region with India.

Participating in a discussion on the Demands for Grants of the Ministry of North East Development, members in the
House made a case for bringing in change of strategy and political will for progress of North Eastern region.

“For 50 years we have clamped AFSPA on the region. Armed forces have killed 50,000 plus civilians in North-East. AFSPA has been the biggest deterrent of integrating NE youth with India… Remove AFSPA without any conditionality,” said BJD member Tathagata Satpathy.

Tathagata Satpathy. Courtesy Lok Sabha.Tathagata Satpathy. Courtesy Lok Sabha.

Tathagata Satpathy. Courtesy Lok Sabha.

Thokchom Meinya (Cong) demanded immediate repeal of AFSPA from Manipur, saying the Act has been “draconian and black law”. He said many agencies have said AFSPA should be repealed and the Centre should immediately repeal it.

Satpathy said the government at the Centre will have to change its strategy to integrate the North Eastern people with Indian culture. “It is a change in political will that is needed. It is not the BSF and armed forces who are at fault; it is politicians who are at fault,” he said.

Flaying the attitude of successive Central governments towards North East, Satpathy said till 2008, Governors of the states in the region were retired armed forces personnel.

He demanded a Padma award for Irom Sharmila, who is fighting for the repeal of AFSPA in Manipur.

“Irom Sharmila deserves to be given Padma award for her perseverance. I admire her personally. The kind of awardees we saw this year, she deserves to be given Padma award,” Satpathy said.

He said the attitude of successive governments towards North East has been “convoluted or perverted. If Britishers had not come to India, then perhaps North East would have been put off to China”.

Visakhapatnam: Fire yet to be controlled at bio-diesel company, no casualties

A major fire that broke out at a bio-diesel manufacturing unit in Visakhapatnam Special Economic Zone (VSEZ) here last evening is still raging even as hectic efforts are on to control it, officials said on Wednesday.Visakhapatnam District Collector N Yuvaraj, who was at the accident site, told PTI that nearly 40 fire fighting engines from Navy, Visakhapatnam Steel Plant, and Port Trust were making all efforts to put out the fire, that erupted at the Bioxmax Fuels Ltd company premises in Duvvada area here at around 7.30 PM yesterday.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>No casualties were reported in the incident so far, he said, adding that the blaze occurred in the storage area and no worker was present in close proximity of the mishap site.Biomax Fuels Ltd has a manufacturing capacity of five lakh tonnes of bio-diesel from multi-feedstock at VSEZ.The Collector said out of 18 storage tanks located at the site, 12 caught fire. It is expected to be brought under control by this evening as the entire oil in the tanks has to burn completely, he said.The authorities are taking steps to avoid the fire from spreading to six other tanks which are there in the same area, he said.District Fire Officer J M Rao said they were yet to ascertain the cause of the massive blaze.As the flames spread rapidly from one tank to another within minutes, the fire tenders were unable to reach the storage area, he said.Meanwhile, the Eastern Naval Command in a statement said that nine fire tenders of Indian Navy were deployed at the Biomax company to douse the flames.”On getting news from the state administration, the Eastern Naval Command launched two aircraft for aerial reconnaissance and assessment of the extent of fire. Navy’s Quick Reaction Team (QRT) and an ambulance with medical team were rushed to the site of the fire accident along with the fire tenders,” it said.Standby arrangements have been made at the Naval hospital, INHS Kalyani, for providing assistance in case of medical emergency, it said.Fire tenders are being replenished and turned around.Additional fire tenders are kept on standby for deployment, the release added.

German experts develop method for better prediction of India’s monsoon

Berlin: Climate researchers in Germany on Wednesday said they had found a way to more accurately predict the Indian monsoon, which could help maximise the subcontinent’s food and hydro-power supplies.

Improved forecasts of when the heavy summer rains start and end could help millions of farmers plant crops at the right time, and allow energy providers to estimate when dams and reservoirs fill up, they said.

Mking the right monsoon prediction. ReutersMking the right monsoon prediction. Reuters

Mking the right monsoon prediction. Reuters

Global warming already affects monsoon stability and will make accurate forecasting ever more important, as deviations can spark droughts and floods, said the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK).

“The timing of Indian summer monsoons, on which the livelihoods of many millions of people depend, is likely becoming more erratic,” said project leader Juergen Kurths. “This makes early and accurate forecasting ever more crucial.”

The scientists said they had developed a novel prediction method based on a network analysis of regional weather data, and would propose their model to the Indian Meteorological Department.

“We can predict the beginning of the Indian monsoon two weeks earlier, and the end of it even six weeks earlier than before — which is quite a breakthrough, given that for the farmers, every day counts,” said Veronika Stolbova of PIK and Zurich University.

“We found that in North Pakistan and the Eastern Ghats, a mountain range close to the Indian Ocean, changes of temperatures and humidity mark a critical transition to monsoon,” said Stolbova in a statement.

Usually the focus has been on southern India’s Kerala region, said Stolbova, lead author of the study published in the scientific journal the Geophysical Research Letters.

“These precursor phenomena are often buried by huge piles of weather data and hence get overlooked,” said PIK guest scientist Elena Surovyatkina of the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Space Research Institute.

Kurths said they had looked at the climate system “as a network, just like the social networks so many people are using in their everyday life”.

“On Facebook or Twitter, you can follow how news is spreading, one posting leading to many others. In the climate system, not people but geographical regions are communicating — admittedly in a quite complex way.”

Information about monsoon timing is key for Indian farmers, who usually grow all-important crops like rice, soybean and cotton during the June-September monsoon season.

The scientists said they had tested their method with historical monsoon data and achieved correct predictions in more than 70 percent of cases for the start of the monsoon, and in more than 80 percent for its withdrawal.

The authors said their method could improve the time horizon of monsoon prediction compared to that now used in India — both during relatively normal times, and in years when the El Nino phenomenon affects the rainy season.

INS Arihant undergoing sea acceptance trails, says top official

Country’s first armed nuclear submarine, INS Arihant, is currently undergoing sea acceptance trails, a senior Naval official said on Sunday. INS Arihant is now undergoing sea acceptance trails as it had already passed several deep sea diving drills, Flag Officer-Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Naval Command, Vice-Admiral HCS Bisht told reporters here. “The submarine will be commissioned after completing all the sea-trials,” he added.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>INS Arihant, a 6,000-tonne submarine, is country’s first indigenous nuclear submarine and can launch nuclear weapons from underwater. The vessel was built under the Advanced Technology Vessel Project at the Ship Building Centre here.Stating that India Navy has presently adequate strength of ships, submarines and manpower, Bisht said 45 ships are under-construction in various shipyards in the country. The Navy had successfully conducted the International Fleet Review with the support of various agencies including the Andhra Pradesh government and the Vizag district administration, he informed. To a question, Vice Admiral Bisht said the Indian Navy’s warship INS Viraat will be decommissioned this year and it will be converted into a maritime museum. “After decommissioning the ship will be handed over to the Andhra Pradesh government,” he added.Meanwhile, the local MP, MLAs and several residents sailed on-board the Eastern Fleet ships and witnessed various Naval exercises as part of the ‘Day at Sea’.Eight ships including the indigenous stealth frigate INS Satpura, fleet support ship INS Sakthi, Landing Platform Dock INS Jalashwa, Landing Ship Tank(Large) INS Airavat, Missile Corvettes IN Ships Kanjhar and Nishank, Inshore Support Vessels T-36, T-39 and submarine INS Sindhukirti of the ENC participated in the event, a defence release said.

West Bengal: Panagarh airbase renamed in honour of Air Marshal Arjan Singh

The key airbase at Panagarh in West Bengal has been renamed as ‘Air Force Station Arjan Singh’ in honour of the Marshal of the Air Force, who turned 97 on Friday. The renaming of the Air Force Station was announced by Chief of Air Staff Arup Raha at a function in Delhi to mark Singh’s birthday.Addressing a simple renaming ceremony in Panagarh, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Air Command Air Marshal C Hari Kumar said, “It is a proud moment for the Indian Air Force and the state of West Bengal.”<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”He is an icon and a role model. We have to work hard to ensure that the name is suitably looked after in terms of capability and performance. It is for the first time that we have taken a conscious decision to rename an airbase after an individual,” Air Marshal Kumar said.An icon of the Indian military history, Singh, the first Indian Air Force Chief to lead a young IAF into war in 1965, was hardly 44 years of age when entrusted with the responsibility.Air Force Station Arjan Singh in Panagarh, approximately 150 kms from Kolkata, will house the C-130J military transport aircraft, capable of carrying out special operations. These planes will be flying with the Mountain Strike Corps along areas bordering China.

Kolkata flyover tragedy: 10 IVRCL officers sent to police custody

A city court on Monday remanded to police custody till April 15 the ten arrested officials of Hyderabad-based IVRCL which was building the Vivekananda Road flyover that collapsed last month.The order was passed by Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate of Bankshall Court Madhumita Basu.They have been charged under IPC sections 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder) and 120B (criminal conspiracy).<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The arrested are the construction company’s Director Operations Gopal Krishnamurthy, Deputy General Manager of Project Monitoring Cell (PMC) S K Ratnam, Assistant General Manager Mallikaarjun Rao, Assistant Manager Debjyoti Manjumdar and Structure Manager Pradip Kumar Saha.The others are Project Manager Tanmoy Sil and senior engineers Shyamal Manna and Bidyut Manna and Manager (Civil Execution) of IVRCL, Niloy Roy and Assistant Vice-President of Project Monitoring Cell (PMC) and administration of the Eastern Region Ranajit Bhattacharjee.Twenty-six people were killed and around 89 were injured as a portion of the Vivekananda Road flyover collapsed on March 31 in busy Burrabazar area.

Kolkata flyover tragedy: Manohar Parrikar asks armed forces to assist in rescue work

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Thursday directed the armed forces to provide all assistance in relief and rescue operations in the flyover collapse in Kolkata.LIVE INDIA vs WEST INDIES 2nd semi final T20, ICC World T20″Defence Minister expresses his shock at Kolkata flyover collapse and grief on loss of lives. Directs armed forces to provide all needed assistance,” a Defence spokesperson said.General Officer Commanding-In-Chief (GOC-in-C) of Eastern Command Lt Gen Praveen Bakshi said, “The Army expresses its condolences to the bereaved families on this tragedy. Army is fully committed in providing all possible resources and assistance till the rescue operations are completed.”<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Defence officials said the state government had sought the help of Army in the relief and rescue operations after which five columns of rescue personnel were deployed.Each column roughly consists of 60 men including three medical teams, surgeons along with nursing assistants. The Army has sent 10 ambulances along with its complement of medics to the spot.A team of engineers from the Army has also reached the spot with cranes, water bowsers, gas cutters and specialist equipment to help the civic authorities dismantle the debris, officials said.General Officer in Command of Army’s Bengal area Lt Gen Rajeev Tewary went to the spot of accident to monitor rescue operations as many people were trapped under the concrete debris of the flyover.

Three Indian students killed in horrific road accident in UAE

Three Indian students in the UAE were killed on the spot in a horrific car accident in Sharjah, police said.The incident took place on Al Dhaid-Al Madam Road in Sharjah in the wee hours on Saturday. Ashmi Ashraf, 20, Muhammad Shifam, 20 and Mohammad Shounoub, 21 were returning to Dubai after a short holiday at a friend’s house when they met with the accident. All the three students were from Kerala, Gulf News reported.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The driver of the youths’ car is said to have tried to take a U-turn from an unauthorised area on the road, when another speeding car crashed into their vehicle. The three students were killed on the spot. The driver of the other vehicle, a 25-year-old Yemeni, sustained minor injuries.Colonel Haran Mubark Al Jazai, acting police director of Eastern Region, said the vehicle carrying the students caused the accident. He said the student’s vehicle entered the road from a prohibited area and collided with another vehicle which was travelling on its path.Ashraf from Kozhikode and Shifam from Kannur were studying at Middlesex University in Dubai. Their friend Shounoub was also from Kozhikode, the report said. The Kerala Muslim Cultural Community is making efforts to get the bodies released for repatriation to Kerala, it said.”Middlesex University Dubai students and staff mourn the loss of our students Ashmid Ashraf, Muhammad Shifam and their friend Mohammad Shounoub in a tragic accident. Our deepest sympathies and condolences to their families,” the university said in a statement.

Not an Amnesty scheme: Arun Jaitley counters Rahul’s ‘fair and lovely’ jibe about black money

Countering Opposition’s criticism over the compliance window to get black money from abroad, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Wednesday said his government’s new black or untaxed money scheme announced in the Budget last week is not an amnesty scheme as it has a penalty.” ICC World Twenty20 2016: Afghanistan vs Scotland, Group B 2nd T20 Match Live Cricket Scores & Ball by Ball commentary‘We have told people if any part of your income has not been assessed; pay 30 per cent tax on it and 50 per cent penalty. It is not an amnesty scheme it has a penalty,’ Jaitley said in the Rajya Sabha. ‘This is not an amnesty scheme. So when you make comments on government’s policies to get black money from abroad or compliance window and I would say, please check your track record,’ he described. ‘We are fighting a global economic crisis. You have been in power for a longer period than us. We need a cooperation of all political parties,’ he added. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Jaitley further said that the biggest share of profit from oil price reduction was passed on to the consumers. ‘The profit from import of oil prices after the reduction in prices was divided into three parts. The biggest share was passed on to the consumers, and I have accounts to prove it. A second share was passed on to the oil distribution companies, who have both public and private shareholders. ‘ he said.Congress vice- president Rahul Gandhi has criticised the Narendra Modi government for failing to fulfil his poll promise of bringing the black money from foreign countries, saying it has launched a ‘fair and lovely’ scheme to convert black money into white. Speaking in the Lok Sabha, Gandhi said: “Nobody who has black money will be jailed under Modi’s fair and lovely scheme. All those who have black money can make it white under this scheme.””Modi ji had promised that he will put people with black money behind bars, now they have come up with way to save those people. I was shocked to see Finance Minister Arun Jaitley launching such scheme,” Rahul Gandhi said. Presenting the Budget 2016-17 in Parliament, the finance minister said he wanted to give an opportunity to earlier non-compliants to move to the category of compliants as he proposed a limited period compliance window for domestic tax payers to declare undisclosed income represented in any form of assets.One can clear up past transgression by paying tax at 30 per cent, a surcharge at 7.5 per cent, a penalty at 7.5 per cent which is total of 45 per cent of undisclosed income.Assam CM slams FM Jaitley’s ‘pro-capitalist’ agenda Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has termed Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley’s statement asking states to reform to attract investment or perish as the “pro-capitalist” agenda of the BJP. “Arun Jaitley’s comment on the states to reform or perish is a clear reflection of the NDA Government’s pro-capitalist agenda,” Gogoi said in a statement. “Competition is healthy only when there is level playing field for everybody. However, Arun Jaitley’s stand on states only reveals his myopic view which has the undercurrent of creating regional disparities,” Gogoi said.Inaugurating an investor summit in Haryana , Jaitley had said, “Those who don’t reform, the people in those states are going to be at a disadvantageous position and those who are in a position to offer a more favourable economic, business and political environment to investors, certainly those are states that are going to win. Reform or Perish couldn’t be more true than it is today.” If a landlocked region like North East is left to compete with bigger states like Gujarat and Maharashtra, a sense of disparity will overpower the Region because of its want of a matching business environment, he said. Such comments would disturb creation of jobs and give rise to resentment among the youths which has been one of the major causes of insurgency in Assam, Gogoi said. Jaitley’s comment reflects his ‘insensitivity’ to the people of North East and the Centre’s ‘neglect’ to the region will only alienate the people of the region further, he said.”If Jaitley’s wish list is allowed to be materialised, it will lead to market economy and will prove to be doom for the people of North East who are economically poor and backward”, the senior Congress leader said. “Moreover, Jaitley’s statement is an indication of the NDA Government’s transition from cooperative federalism to competitive federalism”, he asserted. To bring Assam and other North Eastern states to the growth trajectory and bolster its business environment, he said the Congress-led UPA Government had introduced North East Industrial and Investment Promotion Policy (NEIIPP). However, the NDA government has suspended NEIIPP, serving a blow to the development of Assam and other North Eastern states, the Chief Minister claimed. “Assam and other Northeastern states need more incentives to set up more Central sector industries to give a boost to its local and natural resources,” he said.

Security stabilised after Pathankot attack but needs to improve: IAF

Shillong: The security scenario in the country has stabilised after the Pathankot attack, though it is yet to improve, Air Officer Commanding in Chief of the Eastern Air Command C Harikumar said on Monday.

“Though stabilised, we have not been able to improve (our security),” Harikumar told reporters in Shillong on Monday.

“Our country has been fighting to improve security for quite sometime. We have inimical agents that are not allowing us to settle that,” he said.

Representational image. APRepresentational image. AP

Representational image. AP

The Eastern Air Command Chief said, “No other country will find so much police visible all over. Though stabilised, we have not been able to improve.”

“Post Pathankot incident and thereafter in Jammu and Kashmir, we realised that we need to have added emphasis to ensure that our bases are more secure,” Harikumar said.

“We have made SOPs, we have made a lot of decisions and a lot of brainstorming on this. We are seeing how we can involve everybody, including the state, as our outer cover to ensure that our assets are not affected,” he said.

Harikumar hosted a two-day seminar on Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) aimed at synergising all state governments, army, navy, para-military forces in any emergency or disaster relief operations in the future.

In the past five years, IAF helicopters have successfully evacuated 10,868 persons from several disaster zones or flood- affected areas in the Eastern Command’s reach.

During the same time, over 1,200 hours of flying efforts have been made for such operations, defence spokesman Amit Mahajan said.

In the Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations, the need to involve IAF in all four steps of disaster management – mitigation, preparation, response and recovery – by all agencies was reiterated during the seminar.

In other presentations, HADR in remote locations of the NE region, air maintenance towards the sustenance of armed forces and civilian population were also discussed, Mahajan added.


Coast Guard chief Vice Admiral Bisht to head Eastern Naval Command

New Delhi: Coast Guard chief Vice Admiral HCS Bisht has been appointed as the new Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Eastern Naval Command and Vice Admiral BK Verma will take over the strategically important Andaman and Nicobar Command.

Vice Admiral HCS Bisht. Image courtesy Indian Coast GuardVice Admiral HCS Bisht. Image courtesy Indian Coast Guard

Vice Admiral HCS Bisht. Image courtesy Indian Coast Guard

The decisions were taken by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC).

The current Flag Officer Commanding in Chief (FOC-in-C) of the Eastern Naval Command Vice Admiral Satish Soni and
Commander-in-Chief of Andaman and Nicobar Command Vice Admiral PK Chatterjee are to retire on 29 February.

The Cabinet also approved the proposal of the Department of Defence Production for appointment of N Krishnappa, GM
(MS), BEL to the post of Director (Other Units) in BEL.

The Eastern Naval Command is one of Indian Navy’s three major formations and is headquartered in Visakhapatnam. It has base in the port city as well as at Kolkata.

The Andaman and Nicobar Command is a tri-service theatre command of the Indian military and is based at Port Blair in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

It was created in 2001 to safeguard India’s strategic interests in Southeast Asia and the Strait of Malacca by
increasing rapid deployment of military assets in the region.


Chhattisgarh HM Ramsewak Paikra and three others injured in road accident

Chhattisgarh’s Home Minister Ramsewak Paikra and three others were injured when their SUV vehicle collided with a pick-up van in the state’s Balrampur district, police said.The incident took place late this evening between Ghat Pendari and Moran village in Wadrafnagar area when the minister was heading towards his native place Chendra in Surajpur district from Wadrafnagar, a senior police official told PTI. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Paikra, his aide Rakesh Tiwari, guard Sanjay Singh and the driver sustained injuries, he added. When the SUV reached between Ghat Pendrai and Moran, it collided with the pick-up van coming from the opposite direction, the official said. A police team rushed to the spot and the minister and other injured were admitted to the hospital of South Eastern Coalfields Limited (SECL) in Bhatgaon, the official said. Paikra, who had sustained injuries on his head, legs and chest, is being shifted to Ambikapur hospital for further treatment, he added.

Do not only be fair but seen to be fair: President tells Governors

President Pranab Mukherjee yet again asked Governors to act within the framework of the Constitution and “they must not only be fair but also be seen to be fair”.In his concluding remarks in the two-day conference of Governors on Wednesday, he said that they have been charged with an onerous responsibility–to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.”It is, therefore, imperative that all their actions are within the framework of the Constitution and conform to the highest ideals enshrined in this living document,” Mukherjee said. He said as holders of high offices they must not only be fair but also be seen to be fair.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The President’s mention assumes significance amidst a raging controversy over the role of Governor J P Rajkhowa in Arunachal Pradesh that led to the imposition of central rule. Inaugurating the conference, he had yesterday said all those who hold Constitutional positions should maintain sanctity of the Constitution.”Governors, as the live-link between the centre and the states, can catalyse initiatives. Governors may take up smart solutions in their Raj Bhavans which can serve as technology demonstrators. They may also ask the universities to make use of the ‘Unnat Bharat Abhiyaan’ for developing smart villages. Governors can also sensitise states and union territories about adopting a well-knit strategy to achieve the objectives of the Make-in-India programme,” Mukherjee asked.He said strong monitoring, rigorous follow-up, and validation of progress are essential for the success of the Swachh Bharat Mission.The President said the Governors of eastern states, specially the North Eastern states, should become active participants of the Government’s ‘Act East’ policy.Connectivity of the North Eastern states must be improved by strengthening the road and rail network. There is need for a progressive policy for industrial investment and promotion in the hilly and mountainous states, he said.The entire North-East and the Northern region of the country is highly vulnerable to seismic disturbances. The building codes and regulatory mechanisms for new construction have to be enforced strictly, Mukherjee said.”It needs to be ensured that disaster management procedures are in place and regular drills are conducted,” he said.The President said laudable initiatives taken by some Governors should be replicated in other states. As Chancellors or Visitors of universities at the state level, Governors can play a proactive role in driving quality higher education.”Governors could also examine the possibility of conducting in-residence programmes in Raj Bhavans on the lines of what is organised at Rashtrapati Bhavan,” he said.The in-residence programme is envisaged to encourage the creative and innovative potential of people by helping them stay in specifically-built houses inside the President’s Estate. Vice President Hamid Ansari and Prime Minister Narendra Modi also addressed the concluding session of the conference which was attended by 23 Governors and two Lt Governors.Home Minister Rajnath Singh, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, national Security Adviser Ajit Doval, among others also addressed the gathering.

Maritime security challenges have increased responsibility of Navies: President Mukherjee

The emerging maritime security challenges have magnified the responsibilities of navies across the world, President Pranab Mukherjee has said. “The emerging maritime security challenges, across the oceans of the world, have magnified the responsibilities of navies,” he said at the banquet hosted in his honour by Navy Chief R K Dhowan at the Eastern Naval Command Officers mess on Sunday night in Vishakhapatnam.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The President onboard ‘INS Sumitra’ had yesterday sailed through a display of 70 ships off Visakhapatnam at International Fleet Review (IFR).”The seemingly vast stretches of water are our common economic development highways connecting distant lands with bonds of friendship. In order to preserve and secure our shared global highways, and to maintain good order at sea, India, and in particular the Indian Navy, has always pro-actively engaged like-minded maritime nations,” he said.The President said that the presence of warships, personnel and delegations at the International Fleet Review aptly reflects and carries forward “our endeavour to highlight that we are ‘United through Oceans’.””IFR 2016 beckons nations across the world to join us in our quest to promote safety, security and stability across the oceans of the world,” he said.Mukherjee said that India has from the ancient times been a seafaring nation and Indus Valley had trade and cultural links with other countries of the world.”Our seafarers have carried the message of peace to far corners of the world for several centuries. History has shown us that India’s trade and commerce, and its very existence as an independent nation depends upon the safe and secure seas around it,” he said.He said it is today an indisputable fact that the independence and prosperity of all nations, and the peace and tranquillity of the world, hinge upon the security and stability of the seas and the oceans.”I am confident that IFR 2016, and all associated events, will enable each one of us to further cement our bonds of friendship, and build on it to promote goodwill across the oceans,” Mukherjee said.

Kolkata hit-and-run: Accused Sambia Sohrab slapped with murder charge; remanded to 14 days police custody

Prime accused in the hit and run case where an Air Force officer, Corporal Abhimanyu Gaud was run over, Sambia Sohrab was remanded to 14 days police custody till January 30 by a special court here in Kolkata.Sohrab’s counsel, N Islam argued that he was not driving the car and had not confessed to the crime. However, the public prosecutor, Abhijeet Mukherjee said that Sohrab confessed to the crime in his statement. The court has slapped charges of murder and criminal conspiracy. <!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sohrab was arrested from Beckbagan on Saturday night and interrogated throughout the night, before being produced in the court. Two more co-accused in connection to the crime, are still at large.
ALSO READ West Bengal govt, Kolkata Police tried to ‘save’ hit-and-run accused: BJPOn Wednesday morning, around 6 am, a drill was on in the run-up to the Republic Day when a vehicle entered the cordoned off area. When Gaud tried to stop the vehicle near the south gate of the Fort William, the Eastern Command headquarters, it hit him. Gaud was immediately taken to the Military hospital in Alipore, where he was declared dead.The car is reportedly owned by TMC leader Mohammad Sohrab’s son Ambia Sohrab.

Kolkata hit-and-run: Main accused Sambia Sohrab finally arrested

Almost four days after a speeding car ran over Air Force Abhimanyu Gaud, prime accused, Sambia Sohrab was arrested on Saturday night. Sambia is TMC leader Mohammad Sohrab’s son. Gaud was killed in the hit and run on Red Road amidst the Republic Day parade rehearsal in Kolkata. Around 11.10 pm, Sohrab was arrested from Central Kolkata. He has been brought to Lalbazar, the Kolkata Police headquarters. He will be questioned tonight and will be produced before the court here on Sunday.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On Wednesday morning, around 6 am, a drill was on in the run-up to the Republic Day when a vehicle entered the cordoned off area. When Gaud tried to stop the vehicle near the south gate of the Fort William, the Eastern Command headquarters, it hit him. Gaud was immediately taken to the Military hospital in Alipore, where he was declared dead.The driver of the vehicle, an Audi, believed to be Sohrab’s, tore off the temporary number plates and fled from the spot. The car is owned by TMC leader Mohammad Sohrab’s son Ambia Sohrab. A challan, left behind by the driver of the car mentioned Ambia’s name as the person to whom the newly-purchased car was delivered. The car was purchased on January 4 by Mussadi Business Pvt Ltd, company owned by Mohammad Sohrab.

Kolkata: Look out notice against trio in Air Force officer’s death

Kolkata Police on Thursday issued a look out notice against Ambia Sohrab, Sambia Sohrab and their father former RJD MLA Mohammed Sohrab, who are absconding after a speeding car reportedly owned by them killed an Air Force officer during a Republic Day parade rehearsal here.The look out notice was issued after the trio were found “absconding” from their residence at Jorasanko area in the city, a senior police officer said. “Because they are absconding since yesterday’s mishap and we could not find them till today afternoon, this look out notice has been issued,” the officer said. Kolkata Police sleuths have meanwhile seized Ambia’s passport during a raid of one the Sohrab residence, the officer said.The police have so far have raided five houses belonging to the Sohrabs and one of their hotels on Kyd Street in search of the trio.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Sources in Kolkata Police told PTI that reports from the South Police Division as well as from the Traffic department on the incident were submitted to Kolkata Police Commissioner Surajit Kar Purkayastha during the day. “Yesterday the CP had asked for a detailed report. DC South and DC Traffic prepared report on the Red Road mishap and submitted it this afternoon,” the source said. A 22-member team was set up by the CP today to speed up investigation into the mishap in which 21-year-old corporal Abhimanyu Gaud was hit and killed by a brand new Audi yesterday after breaking three guard rails and barging into the parade rehearsal.The car dragged Gaud more than 20 metre after hitting him and he died due to blood loss.Meanwhile, the forensic report of the car suggested that it was travelling at a high speed of around 90 km -110 km per hour when it barged through the guard rails and hit the Air Force official. During investigation it was found that the Audi was yet to get the registration number and was delivered to the Sohrabs with a Trade Certificate (TC) number.”As per showroom records, the car has been registered against a company which belongs to Mohammed Sohrab. The records also show that the car purchased for Rs 90 lakh belonged to Sohrab’s son Ambia Sohrab,” a Kolkata police officer had said yesterday. The Regional Transport office sent a showcause notice to the dealer during the day asking why the vehicle was delivered to the customer with the TC number.”The TC number is strictly meant for use by motor dealers. The dealer can use it while transporting the vehicle from the manufacturing unit to the store or garage. But the dealer has delivered the vehicle with it to the customer which is illegal,” an officer at the regional transport office said. “We have send the dealer a showcause notice which they have to reply within seven days,” he added.Air Force officials have told police that only one person was in the speeding car which knocked down and killed the young officer. “Our eyewitnesses saw that there was only one person in the car. We have told this to the police and are sharing all clues we have with us to help them find the culprit quickly,” an Air Force official told PTI.Defence officials said they are also scanning cameras located on the gates of Fort William, headquarters of the Eastern Army Command, to find more clues. The Air Force is also conducting its own departmental inquiry into the incident.A team of Army and Air Force personnel conducted a solemn parade at the Command Hospital here in the early hours today to bid farewell to the officer. Wreaths were placed on the coffin by police, Army and Air Force officers before it was put on an Army vehicle and taken to the airport for the flight to Mumbai and further on by road to Surat from where Gaud hailed.Gaud’s elder brother, father, uncle and his teacher since childhood days came from Gujarat to take the body. The officer’s brother Bajrangi Gaud said his soul will find peace only if the culprit is punished.

Kolkata: Speeding car kills Air Force drill instructor during Republic Day rehearsal

Air Force drill instructor, Corporal Abhimanyu Gaud was run over by a speeding vehicle during Republic Day preparations on Red Road on Wednesday morning. The driver has fled from the spot.Around 6.30 am, a drill was on, in the run-up to the Republic Day on 26 January, when a vehicle entered the area that had been cordoned off. When Gaud tried to stop the vehicle near the south gate of Fort William – the Eastern Command headquarters, it hit him. Gaud was taken to the Military hospital in Alipore, where he was declared dead.The driver of the vehicle – an Audi, tore off the temporary number plates and fled from the spot.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The car that hit Corporal Abhimanyu Gaud Kolkata Police Commissioner Surajit Kar Purkayastha reached the spot to take stock of the situation. “We are examining the CCTV footage. It is very unprecedented how he parked his car and fled. We have begun an investigation into the case,” said Purkayastha.Meanwhile, the Air Force has filed an FIR with the Maidan Police Station and the Kolkata Police have begun a lookout for the accused driver.On the other hand, Kolkata Police has transferred the case to the homicide department of the Detective Department. Air Force officials will assist civil police in the investigation.However, sources in the Defence Ministry claim that there were serious lapses on the part of the Kolkata Police, who are responsible for cordoning off the Red Road during the parade rehearsal as civilians are barred from entering the road.

20 people injured in Assam as earthquake hits Northeast, buildings develop cracks

A major earthquake with a magnitude of 6.7 on the Richter Scale rocked Eastern and North-Eastern parts of India early today, the Indian Meteorological Department said. The quake occurred at 4.35 am at a depth of 17 km below the ground and the epicentre is located at Tamenglong of Manipur.

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